Question of Privilege of Rep. Joker Arroyo
(on charges against Rep. Villar)
I rise on a question of collective privilege on a constitutional issue that affects the integrity of the House and it is very ripe to continue existing.
In the course of the fight for the speakership, Rep. Agapito Aquino, chairman of the reform bloc, raised questions regarding the fitness of Rep. Villar to seek the speakership. Rep. Villar chose to answer the charges but he was overwhelmingly elected Speaker by this House.
Successful election, however, does not answer the questions nor lay to rest charges of wrongdoing, not in government of laws.
We had a colleague, we still have a colleague in the person of Congressman Jalosjos. He was elected by his district but that did not erase his conviction. So, drawing a parallel election does not wipe out the offense.
The questions raised, nay, the charges against Speaker Villar are constitutional in character. And our duty as members of the legislature is peremptory and clear. We took oath to support and defend the Constitution and uphold the laws. The Constitution has been violated, laws have been broken. If we are to continue in the capacity of public officials, if this Chamber is to continue in its very character as legislature, an indispensable pillar in the system of checks and balances, then we must come to the Constitution’ s defense and the vindication of the laws.
I hesitated long and pondered hard whether to raise these questions for fear of being accused of sour-graping and being a poor sport. But this has nothing to do with sports. Our duty is clear, there are charges of illegalities, the charges must be heard and answered. I am reminded of the case of Speaker Newt Gingrich of the United States House of Representatives. He was investigated by the United States House of Representatives for I think collecting some fees of books he wrote while Speaker (I am not too sure of the facts). But one thing I am sure of is this, the House after hearing censured its own Speaker and penalized him with a penalty was meted out. In other words, there are precedents and we must not hesitate to do our duty.
Article XI of the Constitution is titled “Accountability of Public Officers” it proscribes in Section 16 that:
“No loan, guaranty, or other form of financial accommodation for any business purpose may be granted, directly or indirectly, by any government or controlled bank or financial institution to the President, the Vice President, the Members of the Cabinet, the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Constitutional Commission, the Ombudsman, or to any firm or entity in which they have controlling interest, during their term.”
Charge I. Low cost housing is totally dependent on government agencies such as PAG-IBIG, National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC), SSS, GSIS, and other government financial institutions.
Speaker Villar and the companies of which he is President or Chairman, or where he has a controlling interest, are the biggest low-cost housing developers in the country. To be more specific, it is the Camella and Palmera Homes and its principal subsidiaries, the Household Development Corporation and Palmera and Communities Philippines.
In violation of the constitutional injunction, these companies were given financial accommodations by government banks or financial institutions, among them, PAG-IBIG and the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation among others, during Speaker Villar’s term as Representative from 1992 to 1998 to finance their business purposes.
Charge II. Representative Villar, from 1992 to 1998 did not divest himself of his interests in, nor did he sever his connections with, the companies aforestated. They obtained financial accommodations from the above government financial institutions while he was a Member of Congress. Since he did not, therefore, such companies were forbidden from entering into such financial arrangements.
Because of our Constitution, Republic Act No. 6713 known as the “Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials” states in Section 9:
“Divestment. – A public official or employee should avoid conflicts of interest at all times. When a conflict of interest arises, he shall resign from his position in any private business enterprise within thirty (30) days from his assumption of office and/or divest himself of his shareholdings or interest within sixty (60) days from such assumption.. .”
Charge III. Nor has Speaker Villar, up to now, I am saying up to now, divested himself of his interests in, nor has he severed his connections with, the companies aforestated. Speaker Villar is in no hurry to divest because he has declared that he is under no obligation to do so. A continuing violation.
Charge IV. Speaker Villar controls the Capitol Bank. Mrs. Villar is the chief executive officer. The Capitol Bank received loans, financial accommodations and guarantees from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas from 1992 to 1998 while he was a Representative. That is constitutionally forbidden.
To sum it up, the constitutional prohibition is very simple. If a Representative has a controlling interest in a firm or entity, that firm or entity cannot be extended a loan, a guaranty, or a financial accommodation for any business purpose from any government financial institution.
If that firm or entity would like to obtain a loan, a guaranty or a financial accommodation from a government financial institution, that firm or entity must first relieve itself of the controlling interest of the Representative.
It is my humble submission that Speaker Villar did not do either.
Republic Act No. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, provides in Section 6 therefore as follows:
“Sec. 6. Prohibition on Members of Congress. – It shall be unlawful hereafter for any Member of the Congress during the term for which he has been elected, to acquire or to receive any personal or pecuniary interest in any specific business enterprise which will be directly and particularly favoured or benefited by any law or resolution authored by him previously approved or adopted by the Congress during the same term.
The provision of this section shall apply to any other public officer who recommended that initiation in Congress of the enactment or adoption of any law or resolution, and acquires any such interest during his incumbency.”
In other words, even if he was not the principal author, if he did ask or initiated the enactment of such a law, he is covered by the prohibition.
Simply put, during our term of office, each one of us, it shall be unlawful for us to author any law or resolution that would benefit or favor us. The above prohibition shall apply even to that representative who just recommended, not even authored, the enactment of such law that benefited him.
Charge V. Representative Villar, in his bid for the speakership, prepared a propaganda kit that he distributed to Congressmen and media. I think you were given copies of the one. It is entitled “Manny B. Villar, Jr., Achiever and Visionary Leader,” and [in] the “Legislative Performance of Congressman Manny B. Villar, Jr.” Representative Villar unequivocally said that he “incorporated in the landmark Comprehensive and Integrated Shelter Finance Act, Republic
Act No. 7835, the recapitalization of the National Home Mortgage and Finance Corporation and the amendment to the Agri-Aqua Law to include housing investment.”
Speaker Villar’s companies are engaged in housing. He thereby violated the Anti-Graft Law.
The aforementioned Act, which incorporates H.B. No. 6145, co-authored by then Representative Villar mandates “banks to extend to housing loans not utilized for agriculture and agrarian reform credit.” In other words, loanable funds for agriculture and agrarian credit are to be re-channeled to housing, Speaker Villar’s business.
Representative Villar co-authored H.B. No. 11005 which “increased the capital of the National Home Mortgage and Finance Corporation” and is the main source of funding of Speaker Villar’s companies. President Estrada admitted that the National Home Mortgage and Finance Coporation is presently bankrupt. He said that to the following: LAMP President Edgardo Angara, Congressman Agapito Aquino, Presidential Legislative Liaison Officer Jimmy Policarpio, former Congresman Miguel Romero and myself. The President no less said that it is bankrupt. Increasing the capitalization of a bankrupt GFI benefited Representative Villar’s housing companies.
In the same propaganda kit of Speaker Villar, it states that “also passed by the House were Villar’s measures to make Pag-ibig Find contributions compulsory and to increase housing investments with the SSS.” Pag-ibig is a main source of funding of Speaker Villar’s companies.
In a word, Representative Villar’s legilslation from 1992 to 1998 were designed to benefit his business, a violation of the Anti-Graft Law.
Now, the same provision of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, provides in the third paragraph of Section 6 thereof, as follows:
It shall likewise be unlawful for such member of Congress or other public officer, who, having such interest prior to the approval of such law or resolution authored or recommended by him, continues for thirty days after such approval to retain such interest.
Charge VI. When those bills that Representative Villar introduced or co-authored were enacted into law, he did not divest himself of his interest in his companies that benefited therefrom.
Now, Republic Act 6713, known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials provides in Section 3 (j):
Section 3 (j) “Divestment” is the transfer of title or disposal of interest in property by voluntarily, completely and actually depriving or dispossessing oneself of his right or title to it in favour of a person or persons other than his spouse and relatives as defined in this Act.
Charge VII. Manuela Corporation applied for and was granted a loan of P1 billion by the SSS, a government financial institution. Another P2 billion loan would be syndicated with another government financial institution, the GSIS. Total syndicated loan from the two GFIs: P3 billion.
Manuela Corporation, a housing and realty corporation, is owned by the family of the wife of Speaker Villar. An indirect financial accommodation. Again, the same Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials states in Section 3 (k) thereof:
Section 3 (k) “Relatives” refers to any and all persons related to a public official or employee within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity, including bilas, inso, or balae.
SSS, historically and as a matter of public policy does not extend direct loans to any company. It extends loans to banks or to public or private financial institutions but not directly to business enterprises. The direct loan to Manuela Corporation is a first in SSS history.
Charge VIII. Manuela Corporation owes the Capitol Bank, which also owned by Speaker Villar, P150 million. There may be nothing wrong with that because both are private entities. However, out of the P3 billion earmarked to liquidate the P150 million Capitol Bank loan to the failing Manuela Corporation. In other words, it is a financial accommodation extended by GFIs to relieve Capitol Bank, owned by Speaker Villar, of the P150 million loan. Another indirect financial accommodation.
Charge IX. The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) is being undertaken in obedience to a constitutional mandate. All lands covered by CARP cannot be used for residential, agricultural, industrial or other uses unless a clearance, conversion, or exemption for a particular property is first issued by DAR.
Speaker Villar’s companies are developing or have developed 5,950 hectares or almost 60,000,000 square meters of CARP lands into residential subdivision without the appropriate DAR issuances that would authorize such lands to be used for residential purposes. A traducement of the constitutionally directed CARP law.
Article XIII of the Constitution, in Sections 4,5,6,7 and 8 states with clarity what the agrarian reform program is all about.
Just to give you an idea about how big 60,000,000 square meters is – my constituency of Makati is only one-third of that size. It is only roughly 21,000,000 square meters. If you add the entire area of Las Piñas and Makati, that is the residential subdivisions covered by the companies of Speaker Villar.
The House cannot reform itself, much less even operate effectively if a cloud of doubt hangs over the Speaker of the House. It is to the interest of the Speaker and the Members no less if these concerns are addressed frontally and resolved forthwith to clear the path for meaningful reforms.
Public office is a public trust. We, the representatives of the people pay a price for getting elected to public office. The Constitution imposes on us certain constraints which we must follow to the letter.
Let me allude to the Members of Congress who are barristers – the Constitution forbids us, lawyers, from appearing in court. In my case, for instance, I was a practitioner up to 1992. I got elected to the House so I stopped practicing, or in other words, I no longer appear in court. That is the price I have to pay. I think I was earning adequately in the practice of law, but I have to make a choice. Do I want to be a lawyer or I want to be a Congressman? If I want to continue being a lawyer, then I must not be a Congressman. If I have to be a Congressman then I must stop lawyering. That is what the Constitution says.
So in the case of Speaker Villar, it is simple. If he wants to go/continue in business and deal with government financial institutions, he can do so but he cannot also be a Congressman. If he wants to be a Congressman, then he must not be in business which deals with the government. We have to pay a price.
So, this case is a learning experience for us all. Whatever the outcome, it will show the things we can do, the things we cannot do, and the things we must do.
I would propose that the House of Representatives constitute itself into a Committee of the Whole to hear the charges and the Speaker’s defense.
He will have a trial that is more than fair to him for he will be judged by the very peers who elevated him to be the first among equals, only this time they will judge him according to the law.
I will never seek the speakership again nor in any manner challenge the leadership of Speaker Villar except on this specific issue of constitutional breach that calls into question the rule of law.
This is how important it is. So I rest my cause.
Senate panel OKs Villar censure
By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) Updated January 19, 2010 12:00 AM
MANILA,Philippines – The Senate Committee of the Whole has recommended the censure of Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. for unethical conduct when he sought the realignment of the C-5 road extension project to benefit his properties in the area. The report said he must pay more than P6 billion to cover the government’s expenses for the highway.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, chairman of the committee that drafted the report, said 11 others had signed it along with him and agreed to tackle the report on the floor.
Those who signed were Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senators Rodolfo Biazon, Panfilo Lacson, Jamby Madrigal, Edgardo Angara, Benigno Aquino III, Manuel Roxas II, Richard Gordon, Francis Escudero and Francis Pangilinan.
Enrile said he would sponsor the report today as it had been filed last night.
There had been serious doubts on whether the C-5 report would be adopted or even discussed on the floor since Villar and 11 other senators had signed a resolution dismissing the charges against him.
Those who signed such resolution favoring Villar were Villar himself, Estrada, Pangilinan, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Senators Joker Arroyo, Alan Peter Cayetano, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Gregorio Honasan II, Pia Cayetano, Manuel Lapid, Ramon Revilla Jr. and Loren Legarda.
But Enrile said the signing of the report did not mean that the Senate already convicted Villar because they would still have to debate and vote on it.
“Regardless of whether or not they agree with the report, they can sign. But as far as the voting is concerned, that’s another matter. (It’s) only to bring the matter to the floor for discussion and then we will vote on whether they agree with the sanction,” Enrile said, adding that he recommended a reprimand since it would be impossible to get two-thirds of the senators to expel Villar.
He also noted that it might not be possible to suspend Villar due to lack of votes as well.
Enrile said Villar could answer on the floor anytime to defend himself. Villar had been snubbing the hearings of the committee of the whole, saying the Senate was only a kangaroo court out to convict him.
Conflict of interest
Despite the nine session days left for them before the campaign period in February, Enrile said they could still dispose of the matter.
In the draft report prepared by Enrile, the committee said Villar violated Article VI Section 14 of the Constitution and Section 3 (I) in relation to Section 9 of Republic Act 6713, or the Code of Conduct of Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and for engaging in improper and unethical conduct as a senator of the republic and had, by committing such violations, damaged the integrity of the Senate as an institution.
The report said Villar failed to avoid conflict of interest situation by not divesting himself of his shareholdings or interests in Adelfa Properties Inc., Golden Haven Memorial Park Inc. and Azalea Real Estate Corp. (now Brittany Corp.) when it was apparent to him that the corporations had contracts with the government, through the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), for road right-of-way acquisition.
It said Section 9 of RA 6713 mandated that a public official or employee must avoid conflicts of interest at all times.
“For the benefit of his corporations, Senator Villar made the Filipino people suffer the total amount of P6,226,070,427.00,” it said.
The C-5 case stemmed from the expose of Lacson who said a senator sought an additional P200 million for the P200 million allotment for the project in the 2008 national budget.
Madrigal then filed an ethics case against Villar for plunder and conflict of interest, saying the former Senate chief benefited from the project.
The issue also cost Villar the Senate presidency as his colleagues decided to oust him when the issue broke out.
No direct evidence
Enrile said they considered the witnesses and pieces of evidence in deciding on the matter.
Based on the report, the money that the committee was asking Villar to return came from the realigned P4.28 billion for the extension project, the P1.8 billion spent for the original project but which was wasted due to the realignment, and the P141.1 million in overpriced right-of-way payments for Villar’s real estate companies.
“Villar was the proponent of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Link Road Project and the DPWH C-5 Road Extension Project were made to pass through the aforesaid corporations of Villar following a curved, instead of a straight alignment,” the report furnished to The STAR said.
Enrile refused to release the report but would not confirm or deny the contents of presumed copies in the possession of reporters.
But he said he would no longer call for an investigation into its leakage, saying it was now all up to the conscience of those who prematurely released it.
The report said the alignment of the C-5 segment of the Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway Project of the Toll Regulatory Board was changed to accommodate the two road projects.
But it added that there was no evidence that Villar had directly participated in the overpricing of his properties but he regularly funded the two projects chargeable against various infrastructures nationwide or against the Priority Development Assistance Fund from 2001 to 2008.
The report also said that Villar allowed a director, general manager, senior vice president and chief operating officer of his corporation, Adelfa Properties Inc., Anastacio Adriano Jr. to propose an amendment to the 2008 national budget amounting to P400 million for the C-5 project when there was no specific program of work for such project and despite there already being an allocation for the project.
The only apparent reason for the amendment was to make available an appropriation for the payment of right-of-way compensation claims of about P200 million, according to the report.
The report also stated that Villar used that power to satisfy the interest of his corporations, violating the conflict-of-interest rule and Article VI Section 14 of the Constitution.
Noting that Villar had proposed the C-5 extension project when he was still a member of the House of Representatives, the report said he “continued to fund” the project when he was already a senator, chairman of the committee on finance and Senate president, yet did not disclose his pecuniary interest as required by the Constitution.
A venue for Villar
Meanwhile, Sen. Alan Cayetano said the upcoming discussion of the Senate Committee of the Whole report will provide an opportunity for the public to discern that the charges filed against Villar were highly politicized.
“I am sad that this has become a numbers game rather than based on evidence. Having said that, the good news is there will be an opportunity to compare the two reports and I believe that when facts are made public the people will see that this has been highly politicized,” Cayetano said.
Since the SCOW will be read as a committee report and it will be scheduled for discussion, it will be up to the majority leader Zubiri to set the issue for plenary debates.
Cayetano said he has not seen a copy of the committee report and has no idea why Estrada and Pangilinan decided to sign it when they had earlier signed a resolution exonerating Villar. – Christina Mendez
Summary of Charges against Sen Manny Villar in C5 Controversy
AVAILABLE IN THE FOLLOWING URL:
Fake BIR papers used to overvalue Villar properties: lawyer
abs-cbnNEWS.com | 09/17/2009 1:25 PM
MANILA – A lawyer for Sen. Maria Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal on Thursday claimed that companies owned by Sen. Manny Villar used fake Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) certifications to overvalue Villar’s properties, which would eventually be purchased by the government for its road projects.
In an interview over dzMM’s Tambalang Failon at Sanchez, Atty. Ernesto Francisco said Adelfa Properties and other companies owned by Villar used fake or tampered BIR certifications to overvalue several properties that would be affected by the C-5 road extension project. He said the certifications were submitted to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and directly benefited companies owned by Villar.
“There was a pattern, a modus operandi in order to sell the property to the government for a higher price. If the value of the land was worth only P7 million at 4,500 per square meter, the company would produce a BIR certification that the value of the land is really P30,000 per square meter and was actually worth P48 million,” he said.
Francisco explained that every time a government road project would go through private land, government always had to pay for road right of way.
He said Adelfa Properties COO Anastacio Adriano Jr. admitted during a Senate ethics committee hearing that the company was paid P25 million for the road right of way in one of the properties affected by a government road project.
Francisco said a total of five separate properties owned by Villar’s companies benefited from various government road projects. He also said that Villar has a history of using his pork barrel to fund road projects that would directly benefit his various real estate projects south of Manila.
Villar is currently facing an ethics investigation before the Senate for approving a P200 million double insertion in the 2008 annual appropriations of the C-5 extension road project.
Madrigal accused Villar of using his position to make the insertions and pour millions of pesos to his real estate company’s subdivision projects.
Road projects “above board”
Villar’s spokesman Gilbert Remulla, meanwhile, said all the road projects approved by the former Senate president are above board.
“Sen. Villar is particularly careful of his reputation so he would not do anything that would be illegal or anomalous. Everything is above board and the documents went through the Department of Justice and the BIR,” he said in a separate dzMM interview.
He added that Villar has refused to appear before the Senate ethics hearing since he does not believe that he would get a fair hearing.
“This trial is not an impartial court. These are fellow presidential candidates so he does not see that he will get a fair hearing there. That is one of the biggest reasons,” he said.
On the allegation that Villar properties used fake BIR documents to overvalue the property, he said: “This is a legal matter…Maybe those in Vista Land can answer it.”
He denied, however, Villar committed a “conflict of interest” when he approved road projects that directly benefited his real estate properties in Cavite.
“It was not solely for the benefit of his company but for the population at large. How many hundreds of billions are saved and properties unlocked because traffic was eased? These projects passed through due process. Besides, Villar is a public fugure and the company is publicly listed. He will not risk doing anything illegal,” he said.
Villar faces censure over road mess
By Christine Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:05:00 01/17/2010
MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) Senator Manny Villar is facing censure at the Senate after he was found guilty for allegedly engaging in improper and unethical conduct in connection with the C5 road extension project, according to a draft report by the Senate committee of the whole.
At the same time, the draft report, a copy of which was furnished to the Philippine Daily Inquire by an official of a political party, asked Villar to return to the public coffers the total amount of P6.22 billion that “he has or his companies have illegally gained or obtained as a result of unlawful acts and improper and unethical conduct.”
Villar’s involvement in the C5 project in Parañaque and Las Piñas, the report said, “made the Filipino suffer (a loss) in the total amount of P6.22 billion.’’
The money came from the cost for the realigned P4.28 billion for the extension project, the P1.8 billion spent for the original project but was wasted due to the realignment and the P141.1 million in allegedly overpriced right-of way-payments for Villar’s real estate.
The report recommended that Villar be censured for violating the provisions of the Constitution and the Code of Conduct of Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, and for engaging in improper and unethical conduct that damaged the integrity of the Senate.
The report said Villar violated Section 14, Article VI of the Constitution for intervening in the project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for his “pecuniary benefit’’
It noted that Villar had proposed that the extension project “pass through properties of his corporations, which in turn benefited from the use of such road, from the compensation for road right of way, and from the resultant economic development in and increased market value of the vicinity.’’
The report said the senator also violated the conflict-of- interest rule by not divesting himself of his interests in Adelfa Properties, Golden Haven Memorial Park and Azalea Real Estate Corp. (now Brittany Corp.) when it was apparent to him that these corporations had contract with the DPWH for right-of-way acquisition.
Villar was a substantial stockholder of Adelfa Properties, which owns Golden Haven Memorial Park and Azalea Real Estate Corp. and whose properties benefited from right-of-way payments from the diversion of the road project. The companies still have unpaid claims, the report added.
It said Villar violated Sec. 12, Article VI of the Constitution by failing to notify the Senate of a “potential conflict of interest’’ when he proposed an amendment to the 2008 national budget by appropriating P400 million . . . for a project that would benefit his corporations and which amount may be used to pay the claims of his corporations for unpaid road right-of-way compensation.’’
Other findings of the committee included:
* Villar was the proponent of the Las Pinas-Parañaque Link Road Project and the DPWH C5 road extension project which were made to pass through the properties of his corporations “following a curved, instead of a straight alignment.’’
• The alignment of the C5 segment of the Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway Project of the Toll Regulatory Board was changed to accommodate the two road projects.
• The properties of Villar’s corporations that were acquired for the Las Piñas-Parañaque link project and the C5 extension project were given zonal valuation for different areas (not the zonal valuation of the area where they were located), jacking up the compensation due them.
But while there was no evidence that Villar had directly participated in the overpricing of his properties, the report said, it was safe to assume that Villar knew about the overpricing.
The report said Villar must have known about it because his corporations stood to gain from the transactions with the government and because of his closeness to Anastacio Adriano Jr., an official of Adelfa Properties, who was directly involved in the transactions.
The committee also found out that Villar had allowed Adriano to propose an amendment to the 2008 national budget.
The report stated that Villar had pushed for the appropriation of P400 million for the C5 road project, when there was no specific program of work for the project and despite the fact that there was already an allocation for the same amount for the project.
The committee learned that the reason for such an amendment was to make available an appropriation for the payment of an outstanding right of way compensation claims of about P200 million.
“As admitted by Adriano, it was in the interest of the corporations of Senator Villar to be paid for such road right of way. This interest may be opposed to or affected by the faithful performance of official duty on the part of Senator Villar who has the power to appropriate public funds by proposing amendments to the national budget,’’ the report said, adding:
“As it happened, Senator Villar used that power to satisfy the interest of his corporations. He did not therefore only violate the conflict of interest rule, thus violating Section 9 in relation to Section 3 of RA 6713 but Senator Villar also became directly or indirectly interested financially in such contracts between his corporations and the DPWH, hence violating Section 14, Article VI of the Constitution.’’
Noting that Villar had proposed the C5 project when he was still a member of the House of Representatives, he “continued to fund’’ the project when he was already a senator, or chair of the finance committee or Senate president and “yet did not disclose his pecuniary interest as so required by the Constitution.”
The committee found the senator funded the two projects chargeable against “various infrastructure, including local projects –nationwide’’ or against the Priority Development Assistance Fund authorized by the national budget from 2001 to 2008.
The report said the committee “takes official notice’’ of Senate resolution no. 1472, which was filed on Nov. 16, 2009, by 12 senators, which intended to express the sense of the Senate to dismiss the complaint against Villar.
The resolution was signed by Villar, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., and Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Lito Lapid, Gregorio Honasan II, Joker Arroyo, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Ramon Revilla Jr., Loren Legarda, and Francis Pangilinan.
But Estrada had said he would withdraw his signature from the resolution because it was released before the committee report.
A source in the Senate confirmed on Sunday night that the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s copy of the draft report was authentic.
But in a radio interview on Sunday over dzBB, Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile said 12 senators would have to sign the draft committee report for it to be brought to the plenary.
Villar was investigated by the committee in June 2009 on allegations that he was behind the double funding of the P200-million extension project in the 2008 national budget and the diversion of the road so as to benefit his real estate business.
The report was released before Congress took its holiday break last month so as to get the signature of senators. It needs the signature of the majority of senators or 12 for it to be reported out in the plenary.
Otherwise, Enrile said, there will be no report on the issue.
“But it will be part of the records of the Senate,’’ he told dzBB radio. “If someone wants a copy, he could make a formal request.’’
He shrugged off the Senate resolution that was filed in November last year that saw initially 12 senators saying that Villar was innocent of the charges filed against him by Sen. Ana Consuelo “Jamby’’ Madrigal .
The Senate president asked why senators signed the resolution when the committee report on the matter had not yet been released at that time.
Enrile had the committee report circulated for signature when Congress took its holiday break in December 2009.
Speaking for Villar, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano declined to discuss the content of the draft report as he stressed that Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile had instructed senators not to discuss the report to the media.
“Until the report is signed by majority of the senators, it’s nothing but a piece of paper,’’ Cayetano said in a phone interview.
He asked why the report was leaked to the media when he stressed it was not an official document.
But he said that generally, the release of the report for signature of the senators was questionable.
Cayetano said it came at a time “when the survey period is coming out.’’
“The report was released when the numbers of Sen. Benigno Aquino III and Sen. Villar are close together,’’ he said.